Service impresses international researcher
Jane Johnson, Manager of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, received the letter below from Charles Haas, President of the Titanic International Society. In the course of doing their jobs, Carolina Room staff uncovered valuable historical information that will be shared, provided world-class customer service, and inspired a researcher from New Jersey to support our Library.
October 29, 2017
Dear Ms. Johnson:
During more than 60 years of digging into the story of Titanic, I have been privileged to work in such research facilities as the National Archives, the Library of Congress, Britain’s Public Record Office, the British Newspaper Library, the State Library of New South Wales, and many others, and have co-authored five volumes about Titanic. I have experienced first-hand the professionalism of staffs at some of the world’s premier research facilities, and appreciate fully the vital roles that professionals play in guiding even the most experienced researcher in maximizing use of a library’s holdings, uncovering hidden or little-known resources and preserving traditional printed matter for future generations.
In all that researching, I have rarely, if ever, experienced the truly remarkable degree of determination and persistence in solving a research problem that I encountered from the staff of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s Carolina Room: Mr. Robert Stocker, Ms. Meghan Bowden and your kind self. What began as seemingly a simple reproduction problem involving an online newspaper archive soon became a personal quest on Mr. Stocker’s part to find a readable hard copy in the Library’s collection of the 100-year-old article I was seeking. Throughout this process, he went far beyond anything I might have hoped for, especially as a non-resident. In addition to his willingness to spend time digging for a hard copy, he kept me fully informed through his e-mails about his progress. When he was unable to find a bound volume of that particular newspaper issue in the Library’s basement, it would have been so easy for him to say something like, “Sorry, I can’t help you any further. Best of luck.”
Instead, he turned to a team approach and brought you and Ms. Bowden into the quest. Your combined expertise and enjoyment of a challenge solved the problem by finding full, legible copies of the article in other Charlotte-area newspapers.
My research project involves using newspaper coverage to develop fully the career of the Cunard liner Carpathia, known almost solely for its rescue of Titanic’s survivors in 1912. But there was so much more of her story to tell in the pages of our Society’s journal, Voyage. The complete text found by “the Charlotte Mecklenburg Team” is a soldier’s marvelous documentation of one of Carpathia’s troopship voyages during World War I – an aspect of her service rarely touched upon. Our members will, I know, find this a fascinating glimpse into a little-known period in a famous ship’s life.
In these days of Internet-based researching, some – including, sometimes and unfortunately, those in charge of funding – actually believe there no longer is a need for a bricks-and-mortar library, and that anything one needs to know can be found with a few mouse clicks. My experience with you and your colleagues is ample evidence to the contrary. To say it as a cliché, “I couldn’t have done it without you.”
I hope you will accept the enclosed check as a small token of my appreciation of the good work each of you does every day. I wish it could be more – I am a retired teacher – but I hope you, Robert and Meghan know how deeply appreciative I am of all you have done on my behalf and for the enjoyment of the members of Titanic International Society. When this issue of our journal is published, I will be pleased to send you copies for the Library’s collection.
Again, thank you so much, Robert, Jane and Meghan!
With every good wish,
Charles A. Haas
President, Titanic International Society